Ducks: The Common Enemy

When I was about 7 years old, Dad took me to a park somewhere around downtown Salt Lake City, where there were grass, trees galore, and about a billion big ol’ bread-fed ducks. So I went ballistic, running around and chasing the ducks.

I heard a muffled yell from the parking lot, so I turned around. Along came a Chinese lady, about 90 years old and about 4 feet tall. I was a good little kid, so I stood still while she shuffled her way slowly toward me. As she got within earshot, she raised her cane above her head threateningly and began to tell me what a horrible child I was, how peaceful ducks are, and how terrible it was for me to scare the ducks like this. How would I like it if I was just sleeping, minding my own business, and some enormous duck came along and tried to pick me up? Would I like that? She was in fine form. After berating me for about 5 minutes straight, she accepted my meek apology, and shuffled off angrily.

I felt even smaller than the old Chinese lady. Boy, I felt low. Like I had just accidentally slammed the door on a puppy, or something. I was a terrible person. A terrible, horribly embarrassed person. (The only old Chinese person I knew personally was my dad’s Tai Chi instructor, so I guess I just assumed that all elderly Asians were dispensaries of wisdom – at any rate, I assumed that she was right, and I was mud.) I ran off to climb a tree, where Dad came and found me, told me he’d seen the whole thing but wanted to let me fight my own battles, and then shared a chuckle about how funny the lady looked shaking a cane above her head. Maybe I shouldn’t scare ducks – but old ladies shouldn’t scare children, either.

Today, Ethan and I went for a walk to take advantage of the sunshine, and ended up at the duck pond. We just sat in the sun for a while, filling in captions for what we thought the ducks were saying. Two of them were having a marital dispute. One was trying to impress a girl by splashing water on her head. One was named Lucille.

And then we saw the greatest sight of the day. They weren’t ducks – they were people. A family of 4: one dad and three kids, all carrying medieval-style foam weapons. One boy had a sword, the girl had a double-edged sword, and dad and the other boy each had battle-axes. We watched, impressed with the fine parenting of this father, as he walked his family through the park, stopping only momentarily to wait for the battle-ax boy to catch up after waging epic (but harmless) war on a flock of ducks. Maybe they were scared – but if I was one of those ducks, I’d be honored to have fought such an adversary. Well met, young warrior. May your tiny foam ax lead you always to victory.♦


2 thoughts on “Ducks: The Common Enemy

  1. Hi, Rachel! Surprise! I guess I didn’t respond to your emails so the computer put them all into a “Social” box whatever that is. I hadn’t seen anything from November on! I probably thot you had given them up; silly me! Cynthia pulled them up for me. Ah, Grand daughters! I enjoyed your reflections on the Ducks…I like ducks! Well, I’ll get this off to you, and see what happens next! Love you most! Grandma (and Pierce)

    On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 4:28 PM, the sandguppy

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